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Prince William commemorates New Zealand soldiers who fell at Passchendaele

13 Octobre 2017

Belgium's commemorations for New Zealand's participation in the Battle of Passchendaele will take place at Tyne Cot Cemetery tonight (NZ time).

Today's commemoration marks the centenary of 12 October 1917, a date which became known at the "darkest day" for New Zealand's armed forces.

The Duke met with representatives of the New Zealand Parliament and government at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Flanders, which is run by the War Graves Commission, which has responsibility for the burial space.

The Duke said: "All too often the newsreels speak of "ordinary" men and women".

Taikato says "it's important that we show our respect and honour to them especially today being the darkest day, with our allies at the Third Battle of Ypres". All told, the Battle of Passchendaele would claim close to 2,000 lives - a devastating toll for a country with a population of just over a million. Every death here left a shattered family there.

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At Passchendaele 1860 New Zealand soldiers were wounded and 845 killed. "But while we may never truly understand, we can remember".

There was a ceremonial welcome from the Maori Cultural Group of the New Zealand Defence Force.

The Duke also shared the traditional Maori greeting - a hongi - with Willie Apiata, the first and so far only recipient of the Victoria Cross for New Zealand.

William, who was dressed in a suit and wore a poppy and his medals, laid a wreath in recognition of the sacrifices of the fallen.

Prince William commemorates New Zealand soldiers who fell at Passchendaele